Selva: Cristina Lamas and Francisca Carvalho na Brotéria
As an ecosystem, the jungle is characterised as the place where the greatest biodiversity on Earth occurs. Made up of dense vegetation, jungles are humid forests in equatorial and tropical areas. They are a symbol of life, impervious paradises which belong to the natural world, far from urban centres and from noise and visual pollution. This is a distant place, where the quiet beams of light penetrate the dense vegetation and claim the dream and the sublime.
In Brotéria, the building’s main staircase (Palácio dos Condes de Tomar) was occupied by Selva, a site-specific installation by Cristina Lamas and Francisca Carvalho, curated by Sérgio Fazenda Rodrigues. This staircase is a place of sharing between two artists who combine methods, techniques and knowledge. Selva’s organic and natural side opposes the classical rigour of this 16th century building. The stucco reliefs on the building’s walls and ceiling breathe the lightness of this installation, making the staircases of Palácio dos Condes de Tomar a meeting point between past and present.
Selva’s process cut numerous rectangles of fabric and painted them with natural pigments. Then they were sewn together, forming a single large textile piece. With variations of the colour green, reminiscent of different vegetation, each section of the work has unique features. This textile body, at the origin of Selva, is suspended, levitating between the staircase’s verticality. The installation’s layout and the directions of the fabric take advantage of the light coming through the building’s skylight (the staircase’s lighting source). At some moments, the path of the fabric obscures the skylight’s glare. At other times, the light crosses the composition’s different protrusions. The route takes place between encounter and discovery, where the moments of light and darkness, flooded by the different green tones, resemble a dense humid forest.
There is no itinerary. Going up or down, the reading of the work is different at each step. Every step gradually presents a new perspective on the composition. This huge flaming sheet seems to have an invisible structure that allows it to float and contort. The fabric is drawn in the air, taken up by a spirit that levitates it, creating an immersive and mysterious atmosphere.
As a colour, green recalls ecological awareness and care for the planet’s organic life. On the other hand, the colour green impacts the body, lowering blood pressure and dilating the capillaries. It produces a restful effect and that is why green is used against insomnia and fatigue. Selva reminds us of the importance of staying in touch and balance with nature.
Selva gravitates towards us. This is an involving and grand composition, where we feel small and young, capable of losing ourselves in imagination.
The installation Selva can be seen at Brotéria until November 11, 2022.
 Huyghe, René. “Color and the Expression of Inner Time in Western Art”. In Ottman, Klaus, org. 2005. Color symbolism: The eranos lectures. 2nd ed. Woodstock, GA, USA: Spring Publications. Page 38